The mother of a 12-year-old schoolgirl at the centre of the latest attempted abduction has made a heartfelt plea for the public's help to find the culprit.
The girl was biking home along Tay St about 4.20pm on Thursday when a man tried to entice her into his vehicle.
It's the fourth alleged attempted abduction in the past six months, with one arrest having been made, and the suspect has been behind bars since in February.
Police were still hunting for a man who grabbed a 13-year-old Tauranga Intermediate School student from behind while she walking to school near the intersection of Chadwick Rd and Greerton Rd on December 4, 2012. She managed to escape.
On November 6, 2012 a man tried to entice an 8-year-old girl into his car as she scootered along Te Okuroa Drive in Papamoa after school.
Detective Sergeant Darryl Brazier said the latest attempted abduction happened while the 12-year-old Mount Maunganui Intermediate student was riding along Tay St half way between the intersection of Oceanview Rd and Valley Rd.
Mr Brazier said the young girl told police she was approached by a Caucasian man who made inappropriate comments to her in an attempt to entice her into his vehicle.
"She was smart enough, and alert enough not to engage the man in conversation and rode on to the footpath and sped off to her home," he said. The vehicle was last seen driving off along Tay St towards Maunganui Rd. Mr Brazier said: "We need to find this man and stop this sort of thing from happening to anyone else because it's inevitable if he isn't caught he will try again. The concern is next time he may achieve his objective and we will end up dealing with a far more serious crime."
The girl's mother said her daughter normally rode home in a convoy of other girls, but had gone to netball practice and was only a block from home when the man spoke to her.
She said her daughter told her the man had driven past her then parked in the middle of the road and waited for her to ride along beside him and spoke to her from his vehicle. The mother said: "My daughter was really scared and very freaked out but she did everything right to keep herself safe. She was very brave. As a parent of a young girl who is my only child, I didn't want her to think there were lots of weirdos out there but we've definitely had the stranger-danger conversation before and she knew what to do. I've very proud of her, she did everything right."
The mother said she was horrified when her daughter told her and immediately told the police, and urged anyone who has any information about the man or his vehicle to come forward.
"I wouldn't want this to happen to anyone else's child," she said.
Two Tauranga detectives were back at the scene last night canvassing residents.
Mr Brazier said it was too early to say if there was any link between this attempt and the other cases.
Mount Maunganui Intermediate principal Lisa Morresey said her students were informed at school assembly yesterday and a special newsletter had been sent home to parents reminding them to reinforce the school's "Keeping Ourselves Safe" strategies .
"Our school is very proactive about promoting stranger-danger strategies. The email has asked parents to have the conversation again with their children in the event they are also approached by anyone they don't know. I have also had a debrief with the young girl. She ... absolutely did all the right things." Ms Morresey said students have been urged if possible not to cycle or walk home alone.
The suspect's description
Shirtless Caucasian, possibly late 20s early 30s.
Unshaven, bit of facial hair.
Unkempt brown coloured "scruffy" hair.
Very pale complexion
Driving an old, dirty-looking white vehicle in generally bad condition
Possibly with a bubble-shaped roof - could be a hatchback
Black strip on the bottom section of the vehicle
Anyone with information call Tauranga police on 577 4300. Or phone the Crimestoppers line anonymously on 0800 555 111.